This is Part 3 of a small series on how to improve your life with only a few small changes. Read Part 1-Sleep here and Read Part 2-Move here
Diet is a Can of Gummy Worms
Many people will tell you to follow the diet they did last year because it’s so simple to follow and they saw incredible results. Then they’ll tell you that they’re about to start again because they put all the weight back on after stopping the diet last year.
Well, that doesn’t sound like a healthy solution!
No More Diets
Dieting is a bad idea. Dieting isn’t simple, if it were, we’d all be doing the same thing and looking like the perfect specimens of human evolution that we know we could be. If dieting were simple, entire multi-billion dollar industries wouldn’t exist. If we all knew how to eat and stay healthy, do you think there would be pizza delivery to every address in the United States? If we all knew how to consciously choose when to eat sugar, that checkout counters at every grocery store would be lined with sugar snacks? If we could all make these easy diet choices, would we need drugs for cholesterol, high-blood pressure, and all the other problems doctors and pharmacies love to prescribe for?
Dieting isn’t easy. Dieting is tough because many people see it as a short-term solution. “Six-pack abs in 2 weeks!” exclaims a tabloid cover at the checkout-aisle that you’re currently dropping a family-pack of Oreos, frozen pizzas, and a 2-liter of sugar-water on. Then after eating those Oreos and finishing off the pizza the kids didn’t eat, you decide it’s time to get back on your low-carb diet.
Think About Your Food
Dieting isn’t going to get you to your goals. A healthy lifestyle that weighs the pros and cons of the food you eat, however, will. This is why I chose nutrition as the last topic of the basics to discuss with you. It’s the hardest to understand, the most difficult to follow, and the most guilt-inducing part of the puzzle for nearly everyone looking to make a healthier version of themselves. However, don’t beat yourself up over the Oreo’s. A healthy, nutrition-dense lifestyle is going to take time to develop.
Your nutrition isn’t as easy as what goes in is what comes out. Your nutrition is going to have physiological, timeliness, environmental, social variables, and more to consider. You think Keto sounds great until your friends order a pizza, then it’s your cheat day. You think Paleo sounds great until your friend makes a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich, then it’s your cheat day. Your co-workers want to celebrate after work with drinks, so you have a beer with them tonight— and again at the next celebration tomorrow. This is nothing but a cycle of guilt that you have no need to bear the weight of.
Give Yourself a Break
Let’s start simple. Make your home-life as food-temptation free as possible. Start with the easy targets: Cookies, cakes, snacks, sodas, frozen pizzas. When it’s your turn to grocery shop for the family, don’t bring home the cookies.
Your body is that incredible machine we keep talking about. Your brain doesn’t always control your choices, as powerful as you think your mind is. Thinking with your gut is being proven with a lot of powerful research to be more than a saying. Think about the logic for a second: You’ve been feeding your body sugar and other bad-nutrients for years, decades even, and is adapted in a way to run on that fuel. Suddenly, you’ve stopped giving your body the fuel it’s learned to run on. In response, your body powers up all of the cravings and addiction responses it can, trying to manipulate you (you read that right, you’re being unknowingly manipulated by yourself) into giving into the demands of the fuel it wants.
Once you’ve made it through the cravings, you’ll begin to remember what healthy is. Getting pizza at lunch no longer sounds appetizing. No longer are you pushing away guilt, but replacing that feeling with a sense of fulfillment as you know you’ve made a choice better for yourself— and still plenty delicious in the food options!
You go to the grocery store now and don’t even think to go down the cookie aisle. You visit the cereal aisle less- if only to get coffee because the grocery store knows one morning addiction will help to fuel the other. You visit the produce aisle more, you visit the butcher more, you don’t even consider the candy at checkout anymore. All of this from only the small step of not bringing bad food into your home. Next step is eating out and in social situations, but let’s not get ahead of the purpose of this series- the basics.
Basic Tactics for Better Nutrition:
- Consistency: Stop dieting. Start making better choices that can last you a lifetime.
- Variety: Don’t always buy the same fruit, vegetables, and cuts of meat. Visit different stores. Their produce may be sourced from different regions of the world, giving you a small shift in the variety of nutrients that you otherwise may not be able to obtain.
- Think outside the box: If it’s able to sit on a shelf, unrefrigerated, in a box, then think how long it will be able to stay inside your body. This doesn’t apply to everything but is a good basic rule to start thinking twice about the choices you’re making.
- Grow your own: Have space for a small garden? Reconnect with your food and grow your own veggies. You’ll learn something along the way, start to appreciate the health of your home-grown foods more, and know exactly what went into growing them.
- Trust yourself, train your gut: If you go to pick anything up, and I mean anything, if your brain tells you no, put it back! Your instincts know what is good and what is bad for your body, make your gut listen to your brain. Some food may not taste that great, but you’ll find ways of cooking to improve it, or better yet- your body will learn what real, natural, nutrient-dense food tastes like and start craving these foods again.
For anything as important as your health, starting simple is the best foundation. You have one body, one chance. You don’t have to live a monk’s life but giving your body the best chances to operate the way it’s meant to will give you the best chances to live the life you want to.
Don’t stress over your macros, don’t worry if your workout split is allowing enough recovery time, don’t get stuck in information paralysis. Fall back on the basics, on your natural foundations, and you’ll be set up to succeed brilliantly in the near future.